There are lots of things you can do in Brazil, and it’s too bad that all most of people know about are the beaches and the annual Rio de Janeiro carnival. There’s really a lot more to this place than the things that make it popular. And since the World Cup’s starting in a couple of days, it would be helpful if you knew all the other activities that you can do, without counting the amazing beaches – you already know about those.
Christ the Redeemer is something you know about – and how could you miss it? – but what maybe never crossed your mind is that you could visit it and maybe enjoy the panoramic sight of Rio de Janeiro which the statue looks over since 1931. Its construction took no less than 5 years and it was worth it – since 2007 it’s listed as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. Over 36 meters of a statue represent the warmth and the friendliness with which the locals welcome all its visitors, its grandeur never ceased to impress all the tourists and once you’ve visited it you’ll certainly obsess over Tom Jobim’s song talking up Corcovado.
You may have seen other panoramas until this one, but there’s something imposing and kosher about the way the harbor of Rio scatters at your feet. Because not only the statue and the panorama are spectacular, but the surroundings as well, instead of taking the car and being forced to pay attention at the driving, you should take the train that travels through Tijuca National Park straight to the top of the mountain. Tijuca forest is one of the best blends of luxuriant vegetation and placidity. And especially for all the adrenaline junkies who have some spare time, Corcovado can also be seen from a helicopter.
It’s funny how, given the popular rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls not only can be seen from both sides, but each of the views offers a different dazzling, fairy landscape. The stupendousness of the falls spreading along a 2,5 km earth cleft (the world’s biggest) is one of the most impressive natural wonders. The sound is quite powerful as well and it adds up to the vigor of the landscape, as a 81-meter waterfall like this is the most éclat one should ever hope to get from a raw natural beauty.
The Pantanal may not be necessarily highly popular, but we strongly recommend you to give it a try if you’ve got the chance – after all, it’s only the most varied and the vastest tropical wetlands in the world. Its ecosystems, which usually seem to sound like something only a researcher would fully understand, are something you’re going to love: all kinds of trees and backwoods, shrubs and herbs of all colors and textures shining under the sunlight re going to make you love the wilderness of the place.
What’s really impressive is how peaceful and serene it makes you feel, as if you’d only be visiting the most complex botanical garden. From fishing to horseback riding, boat tours and – of course – hiking, there’s nothing you should say no to. Except maybe for some of the local dishes, which clearly aren’t for everyone. Make sure to ask what you’re offered to eat before doing it, unless you don’t mind your stomach hating you for the rest of the day.
Getting there is not as complicated as it may sound – there are daily buses and flights to Campo Grande (for the south) and Cuiabá (for the north), the main gateway cities for your trip. It’s indeed not very convenient that a bus trip from Rio de Janeiro to Cuiabá takes somewhere around 30 hours, but the flights aren’t that expensive once you’ve decided you want to live all kinds of experiences in your trip here. Trekking and expeditions are quite famous among the Brazilians, mainly because of the splendor of the forest.
If you love café latte but you also like architectural beauties, the baroque hill towns of Minas Gerais (on of Brazil’s 26 states) is where you have to go and see the local colonial art and architecture. Cities like Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Serro or Fiamantina are known as producers of diamond and other precious stones, but the gold mines discovered in the past left their mark on the cultural style in the area. At the beginning of the 20th century there was nothing left of the gold mines whatsoever, except for the rich style of Barocco Mineiro, which you’ll find on everything from churches, to old buildings, sculptures and other cultural representations of the time.
Cachaça is what you should necessarily drink while taking lunch in a local restaurant, it’s a very strong drink and it’s only fair for the beverage to be popular since the capital of this state’s believed to be the alcoholics’ paradise. As about the pubs and restaurant, you’ll have where to choose from – there are over 10 thousands of them in the state, and although this destination’s a little off the beaten path for the usual, general tourist, it’s really worth it for architecture lovers who want to have what to admire over good coffee.
In the middle of the city madness, there’s the hippiest, happiest place in Rio de Janeiro. The idea of this cultural project was designed as a way of thanking the locals for their friendly, beautiful way of being humanly beautiful. Jorje Selarón, a local artist, decided to transform the eroding stairs in front of his house into colorful, vibrant painted place reminding of their free spirit. The place is at da Lapa and since the artist believes his project is never complete, he keeps hand-painting many of the stairs, changing the piles. The name under which you’ll find this project is called The Selaron Steps.
The local markets
They’re not only very popular, but you’ll find awesome things here. Benedito-Calixto is a Saturday all-day market in Sao Paulo where you’ll find everything from antiques to live music. Dry fruits and traditional sweets, a glass of wine to let all the singing sink in, plus the streets! The quirky shops aren’t the only thing that could attract you here, it’s the neighborhood as well: the streets look like they’re taken from a retro movie with small, cozy restaurants and beautiful buildings hiding their stories waiting for people to explore all the beauty.
Street food and handicrafts you’ll also find on MASP on Avenida Paulista, where there’s also a weekly all-day market in Sao Paulo, and the place under the museum becomes a proper weekly underground culture with markets men, fun and all kinds of gifts and souvenirs.